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Title:Trans-Pacific Popular Mediascape: In Search of Girlhood Through Korean Immigrant Teenage Girls' Image-Production and Webculture
Author(s):Bae, Michelle Suehyun
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Duncum, Paul A
Department / Program:Art and Design
Discipline:Art Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Art
Anthropology, Cultural
Mass Communications
Gender Studies
Abstract:My dissertation provides an ethnographic account of the cultural practice of teenage U.S. immigrant Korean girls in the specific context of webpages created through a Korean social networking website called Cyworld. Their webpages are understood as personal narratives about what it means to be a Korean girl, which are informed by trans-Pacific popular cultural experiences. This research examines how the girls use their digital images and texts to unpack gendered practices across national boundaries. Since the late 1990s, South Korea's national movement towards globalization has propelled unprecedented immigration of middle class Korean girls to the U.S. This phenomenon reflects their social desire to receive a better education for securing professional success and to achieve the cosmopolitan urban lifestyle encouraged by popular media, which perpetuate ideals about women's lives. Regardless of their desire to be a global citizen as motivated by mainstream Korean societal thought, they are essentially labeled as an underrepresented minority or outsider in the U.S. It is ironic that, for these girls, becoming a global citizen demands exclusion from U.S. mainstream society. In this context, fanatic use of Cyworld webpages by teenage Korean girls reflects their resistance to the cultural demand of conforming to middle-class white U.S. social norms and their feelings of nostalgia for Korea, presenting ethnic femininity but in a culturally hybrid form. While they show their ethnic side of femininity, they also challenge some ethnic motifs and values of Korean popular culture. This negotiation of ethnic femininity as a form of cultural resistance takes place in a mode of play, in which they are released from the social pressures upon them, and they are able to freely explore and express their ideas and values of what it means to be a Korean girl in the U.S. Such recreation of ethnic femininity in the Cyworld webpages suggests the expansion of Pan-Koreaness, an ideal form of globalization desired by South Korean society. From this perspective, contemporary Korean girls with trans-national experience are potentially cultural producers who use webpages as an arena for seeking gendered identities. My dissertation asserts that this complex and contradictory mode in the recreation of ethnic femininity is an act of an alternative agency they take through their play in their webpages.
Issue Date:2009
Description:237 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI3362721
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:2009

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